Will You Please?


When you say to someone “Will you please (fill in the blank)?”, how delighted are you when receive a no in response?


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Your answer to this question is critical to the success of your relationships.  When I say success, I mean how much you enjoy relating with other people. 

If you require a yes when you make a request, you are destined for many moments of unhappiness for years to come.  And likely, if you require a yes when you make a request, you often contribute someone else’s many moments of unhappiness.  [NOTE: you aren’t the cause, you are merely contributing.]

If you require a yes, you are making a demand.  No matter how nicely you ask.

Marshall Rosenberg said, “if you are in are going into a conversation in order to get what you want, then you aren’t in “NVC consciousness”.  In “NVC consciousness” the purpose of a conversation to create a quality of connection so that everyone’s needs get met.”

When you ask someone for something, consider your request as a conversation starter. 

If the answer is “sure thing”, then the conversation might continue with a simple thank you and a revealing of what it means to you that they are contributing to your life in the exact way you suggested.

If the answer is anything other than ‘absolutely! yes!’, then you get to continue the conversation with something else. 

Your response could be a thank you, letting them know that their honesty is important to you, and while you are disappointed in hearing a no, you prefer hearing what’s true more than them feeling obligated to say yes.  —This response requires some skills* on your part to be able to continue the conversation.

Your response could be another kind of request.  A connection request.  I encourage this one first.  You might ask them what is in the way of them saying yes to your request.  What need of theirs is getting met by saying no to your request.  Or, you might share how you feel having heard their ‘no’.

Knowing their needs is fundamental.  This is NVC, after all…and the idea is that everything everyone says or does is an attempt to get a need met.  It is what we want to focus our attention on —over and over.  Our needs, and the needs of others.

Knowing your friend’s needs gives you the information you need to negotiate. 


We may have missed something at the very start of this!  *The very first thing in this whole conversation is for you to be clear on is what need of your own you are attempting to meet by making the initial request. 

Which is usually forgotten.  We just ask people for stuff…willy-nilly.  Not taking a moment to check in for our own why.  If we don’t know why we are asking for something, how can we possibly know if it is important to get a yes or a no?  If we haven’t identified what need we are attempting to meet by making the request, how can we possibly anticipate whether or not our need(s) will get met? [Read Stuck in a Strategy].

We must know what needs we are attempting to meet, in addition to knowing our friend’s needs, for an effective negotiating everyone’s needs getting met in the conversation that our request initiated.

Say This, Not That.

Next time you have a request of someone, before you make the actual request, take a moment and consider these things:
1.  What is important to you?  Why are you asking?  What need are you attempting to meet?
2.  What other ways might you also have the experience of that particular need being met?

Remember:  You still get to ask for what you want, to check in and see if the particular way you are hoping for will work out for everyone.  And if you have a few other strategies (requests) in your back pocket, you are less likely to make a demand of someone, or even have that thought.  The thought that they ‘should say yes’, for whatever reason(s) you come up with that seem obvious to you.  

Examples of this might be: 

  • it is so easy for them to do this
  • if they cared about me they would
  • they would do the same for so-and-so, why not me?
  • because she is my wife, you would think she would want to
  • I deserve it!
  • My best friends’ boyfriend did it for him
  • It is on their way home

Are any of these familiar to you? 

If you are thinking one of these or anything similar, do NOT make the request.  It will be a demand, no matter how nicely you ask.

3.  When you have connected to your needs, and feel relatively confident that you will be able to stay present to your feelings if you hear a no, go ahead and ask!!

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One more note:  Please, please, please do not give your requestee ‘permission’ to say no.  They do not need your permission.  If you are fully connected to your own needs, and super interested in your requestee’s needs being met as well, then you can ask fully, with all the passion and yes please energy you can muster.  You needn’t squash your enthusiasm for a yes, when you are completely committed to hearing a no as well.

4.  If you hear a no ~ ask them what need of theirs is informing their no?  Possibly there is a way that your need will be met and theirs as well? 

This is a conversation worth having in my book!